Smiling man with arms outstretched jumping onto large inflatable swan in outdoor pool with friends swimming in background
Stacey Leasca
May 30, 2017 10:09 AM

Americans are in serious need of a vacation.

According to a new report by Project: Time Off, an organization started by the U.S. Travel Association, 55 percent of working Americans didn’t use all of their vacation days in 2015, leaving 658 million days of unused paid time off. And taking time off is important, for not only your stress levels, but also apparently for your wallet.

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The report found that people who use their paid time off are more likely to report receiving a bonus or raise. Additionally, the report found that a mere 23 percent of people who went without a vacation were promoted in the last year. This could be correlation as opposed to causation, but of course Project: Time Off has a different opinion.

The connection between PTO and promotions could be because limiting your days off makes you a poor performer, according to the report.
“Employees who forfeit their vacation days do not perform as well as those who use all their time,” the report stated. “While they may believe sacrificing vacation time will get them ahead, these employees are less likely than non-forfeiters to have been promoted within the last year (23 to 27 percent) and to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years (78 to 84 percent). This is on top of the $66.4 billion in benefits they lost by forfeiting time last year.”

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Beyond your own bottom line, taking a vacation can also help the larger global economy. Unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy $236 billion in 2016, according to the report, due to lost spending. That spending could have supported an estimated 1.8 million American jobs and generated $70 billion in additional income for American workers.

“If the 54 percent of workers who left time unused in 2016 took just one more day off, it would drive $33 billion in economic impact,” the report said.

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As Katie Denis, senior program director of Project Time Off, told Travel+Leisure, it’s up to managers to encourage their employees to take time off. “To change this trend, it has to come from the top. We need bosses who know the value that time off can bring to an organization,” Denis said. “It costs nothing to tell workers it’s OK to take a vacation. It starts with simple encouragement and a reminder for employees to use their vacation days.”

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